Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type





College of Arts and Media

Primary Advisor

Professor Marlon M. Dempster


As technology further integrates into everyday life, the effects of technological advancement surface. The research contained in this thesis places philosopher Michel Foucault’s ideas of the panoptic, discipline, punishment and a carceral society in a virtual reality thus creating a virtual panopticon. Adapting Foucault’s theories to the present-day technological climate allows researchers to begin understanding the why behind humans’ interactions with various forms of technology (e.g. iPhone usage, Smart TVs, online banking, Alexa/Echo, etc.). Additionally, virtual panopticism sheds light on the corruption of those who manipulate information online to wield power, maintain control and make money. I discuss surveillance capitalism and highlight Foucault’s main influencers such as Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche. By conducting a voluntary survey, participants revealed how they operate within a virtual panopticon specifically in the areas of religion, personal technology usage, literature and film and education. Since thinking directly affects actions, the importance of understanding this information is critical to interpreting modern-day culture. The goal of this research is to reveal the effects of virtual panoptical structures on thinking, while simultaneously emphasizing the need for technological accountability.